Meanwhile, Charles, now in his mid-50s, has a hefty collection of solo records to his name – 10 in total, each one defined by a distinctive vocal range comprising angelic, choir boy swooning at one end of the spectrum and a manic werewolf’s howl at the other.
“I learned how to sing louder when I was a teenager,” he says. “A neighbour of mine – who was a musician from Thailand – taught me how to belt things out. The neighbour said, ‘Sing it like you hate that bitch.’ It was a good lesson.”
Charles is also a member of a very exclusive club: he claims to have seen a flying saucer. “I saw a UFO in my backyard when I was little. A big silver rocket, silent, slow, no marking, low to the ground not very high up. It was moving very slowly over the house…”
Weren’t you petrified?
“It wasn’t a terrifying experience. We were young enough, my brother and I, to just accept it and go, ‘Oh, okay.’ I’d have a very different reaction now, but at the time we didn’t know what we were looking at. We didn’t question it either. It didn’t seem threatening.”
Sci-fi and UFOs have been recurring themes in your lyrics over the years. Were you a fan as a kid?
“Yeah, all the typical stuff. I read Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut books. Lyrically and musically, I like all kinds of music and all different kinds of pop and underground records. But when you’re young you don’t know where to begin. You want to try everything and see what it’s like, even if you ultimately fail at it. You want to do country music, rock’n’roll, blues, punk rock, metal, hardcore, reggae. You want to try it all. I knew I wasn’t going to be good at all of it, but I wanted to at least understand those forms a little bit more. The best way to understand something is to try to play it yourself and hopefully something good will come out of it, or some sort of hybrid. I suppose that might be where our good calls have been: the hybridisation of genres. I guess that’s what we do more than anything. I write spontaneously and can come up with something in the moment that doesn’t need rewriting. I feel like I’ve done so much of that spontaneous writing that I’ve embraced it for too long. So sometimes I’ll go back to certain material and I think, ‘Hmm, this isn’t good enough.’ I’ve tried to be more patient and adopt rewriting as I’ve gotten older.”